|courtesy google images|
We have succeeded, nationally, in drastically reducing the number of impounds of lost dogs. Spay/neuter efforts, leash laws, identification systems, and more committed pet owners have helped reduce unwanted dogs, reunite lost dogs with their people, and achieve buy in to the idea that families keep a dog for the duration of the dog's life.
Not so with cats. Not at all.
Many continue to let their cats outside to roam, intact and without identification, all to the detriment of the cats and other wildlife. First, people don't realize their cat is lost until it's too late. Second, authorities can't discern between a lost cat, a community cat and cat transitioning to feral status. Third, the cats on the street are breeding, ailing and serving as food for predatory animals.
Consequently, we are using resources to find a cat who already has a home, a new one, perhaps at the expense of a cat who never had one. Instead of giving every animal an opportunity for a family, we are giving some multiple tries, and others, no chance at all.
Imagine if all pets were required by law to be contained on their property, or if out strutting, be required to be on a leash. Then imagine if all the funds, food, medicine and cage space were freed up for those pets who truly needed a home rather than for those just needing a different home with more committed human companions.
This effort alone would result in a substantial decrease in the number of animals in shelters, the amount of euthanasia performed, and would propel us forward in our resolve to end the pet overpopulation crisis. As an ancillary benefit, we would learn to value the pets we have, thereby reducing the market for unscrupulous breeders. Only then would we begin to live an ethic that treats companion animals like family members rather than like disposable commodities or Doritos.
It would certainly help hoist me out of my existential pit. Isn't that worth something?